21/03 : Laguna Dulce y Fuente de Piedra

The good thing about Fuente de Piedra and the laguna Dulce is that they are relatively close to home, less than 50 minutes now that there is the new toll road (only 3.05 euros each direction) that runs from Torremolinos to the head of Las Pedrizas, thus obviating going into Málaga, the traffic and that horrendous and tortuous climb out to the head of Las Pedrizas. In addition, it may be the last trip that Ron and I may be able to make together before he returns to the depths of an English summer(?) in Yorkshire and I have a busy ten days ahead. There are no photos in this blog to enliven your day if you don't feel up to reading, this is because they would be repeats.

We arrived at the laguna Dulce just before 10.00, intending to look basically for the Ferruginous Ducks which then steadfastly refused to show themselves. But if we failed there, we had other rewards as there was a constant flow of swifts moving through, mainly Pallid but at least 25 Alpines - superb birds with huge white bellies as they swept through on sickled wings - and 10+ Commons so that we could see the comparisons with the Pallids. Additionally, for once I was looking the right way and saw a single White-rumped Swift that Ron missed. Feeding over the laguna there several hundreds of hirundines, mostly Barn Swallows but with a few House and Sand Martins.
There were a few Black-necked Grebes, some splendidly dressed in breeding plumage, a few Pochards, Mallards, Teal, the inevitable Coots and an amazingly high count of ca.85 Red-crested Pochards.

Fuente de Piedra is a lovely place and on a nice spring morning, with the water like a mirror, scarcely a breath of wind and most noise coming from the Greater Flamingos, it's the nearest that one - at least this one - can get to heaven. But the target was, of course as it has been for me for the past few years, spot the Lesser Flamingos. So, if you have read earlier blogs, you will reaslise that this is not twitching as I've seen them so many times and that on Monday I had seen 6 out of the 7 reported by Mick Richardson. Today, we were even luckier and saw all 7 - 3 definite pairs and a singleton. And yes, I am happy, very happy about that. And so was Ron.
We had little time to look for waders from the wooden walkway and saw basically the same as there has been of late - the male Ruff and 2 females, the same Wood Sandpiper that I had photographed before and a Marsh Sandpiper, a different bird to the one that had been present last week, I think. Two or three Little Stints gave very good views and we ran into demon digiscoper Huberto who thought that he had seen a Temminck's Stint but wouldn't swear 100%. Snipe and Avocets are, on the other hand, easy to identify whilst Gull-billed Terns flew overhead.

And then IT appeared, all the birds took fright and vanished over the horizon at a great rate of knots and I can't say I blame them. Here, I freely admit to making a gross tactical error in not photographing IT because what I am about to write takes some believing.

Try to imagine, if you will, a grossly large, pear-shaped, humanoid of uncertain sex and weighing in, at a guess, at around 120 kgs. I'm not saying the ground shuddered but Ron, Huberto and I did. This object (animal, vegetable or mineral, I hesitate to speculate) was clad in the ultimate in country wear - an extremely bright, not quite fluorescent, yellow garment which might well have been fabricated from an ex-Indian Army bell tent and then sprayed with the same bright yellow paint that they use on RAF rescue choppers (see in Google under Prince William but Kate catches the eye better) and may have been visible from space. At which point we too emulated the birds and fled. Honestly, dear readers, the mind boggled totally but we had at least seen 7 Lesser Flamingos.

By the way, the 3 Little Swifts seen at Rambla Morales (Almería) yesterday by Dave et al. were still present this morning, 22/03 (per Rai Martín in fororoa) and I have just seen a lovely little male Subalpine Warbler down by the Guadalhorce whilst walking (very slowly) with the dog.
Finally, just to really make you feel that spring is here, the ticks are out too and I have just removed three from the dog, so be warned.

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